The Twists and Turns of our Digital Story

I love the idea of creating digital content that can be used for teaching, learning, reflection and celebration. Our classroom blogs at AIS-R are full of digital content. It is mostly material that teachers have curated by sourcing out the abundant resources of YouTube and Vimeo. More and more we are starting to create content either ourselves or by having students contribute. My STEM classroom is no different. There is no end to the great resources that can be found to support the learning in my class. My favorite YouTube channels include granddad is an old man, The King of Random, Make, Autodesk 123D, and Tinkercad. I was recently introduced to Smartereveryday which looks amazing.

I have also talked in previous posts about some of the recent iLearning initiatives that we have been working on in the elementary school.I think our teachers are really ahead of the curve in digital storytelling. With the leadership of our technology integrationist/coach Sean Walmsley and the support of our admin we are now much more adept at creating digital stories of our own or instructing and empowering kids to be producers of content in their own right. I have also been inspired to ramp up my efforts to create content and I am proud to say that my YouTube channel has seen a recent bump in new original content.

Where I would really like to see my channel go is to add content created more by the kids. I have some really great fifth grade helpers who edited my parachute and tumblewing videos.

What I would like to see now is to have them work together to create content from start to finish. For example, I want my grade fives to document their learning digitally throughout an entire unit in boats. I want them to share their successes and failures to help each other learn and to acknowledge and celebrate the successes gained through failure. I created a model of this for them and posted it to YouTube.

My biggest limitation is time. I see each class once in a 6 day cycle for only 50 minutes (if all the stars align and they are right on time). They also really enjoy the hands on aspects of manipulating materials to create a boat. It often seems counter-intuitive to stop while building to take a picture or video. This is the important part of the process though because the journey in STEM is more important than the destination, the process is more important than the product and I want them to see and reflect on it. Working in partnership or in small groups surely there is time to grab the iPad and snap a quick shot or video.

So when I think carefully about it I am convinced that is it is worth it to take the time to create this digital story. Now I just have to make it a priority and get it done. I am lucky that as a school division this has been an important initiative and that much of the heavy lifting is also being done by the homeroom teachers and the technology integrationist/coach. I have new units coming up and this will be a good place to start the documentation of the story from beginning to end and through each iteration along the way.

5 thoughts on “The Twists and Turns of our Digital Story

  1. Hi Andrew,
    It’s great that you are involving students in creating and editing digital stories which showcase their learning. I would like to get students more involved in making videos for the Learning Commons as well. Your post has reminded me that our students are already very skilled with video editing, and it is a great learning opportunity for them to synthesize their learning by creating digital stories. I think the hardest part for students is just organizing the content. I’m finding that story boarding, while it might seem like a tedious, unnecessary step, is really helpful in planning and preparing to make a video. I thought these tips were helpful in planning a storyboard: link to You do such awesome work in STEM! The students are lucky to have you there to teach and inspire them.

    1. Laurie,

      I couldn’t agree more that storyboarding makes a huge difference in the quality of a video. My own videos are getting better because I am getting better at planning them out. Using a script and recording a voice over after shooting the video is helping as well. I think we should team up together to work with a grade level and have them work on a digital story together. Interested?

  2. Hey Andrew,
    First off, I’m so impressed that you have your own YouTube channel full of helpful videos for your students. You are already a digital storytelling pro! Just to piggyback on Laurie’s comment, I know all of your kids use iPads so you may wish to consider using an app for story boarding. This helpful article (link to looks at a few different apps for this purpose (scroll down to the bottom for the reviews).

    You also mentioned that one of the challenges that students may face is the counterintuitive nature of stopping once in the middle of a project to take a picture or video. Perhaps if they are working in groups or pairs you could give each of them a ‘role’ or aspect that they are in charge of leading, like ‘the journalist’ takes the lead on the digital story, ‘the architect’ on the design plans and ‘the chief engineer’ on the building, etc. This way, although they are all working together throughout the process, one person can focus on that reflective/showcase portion.

    1. Hi Mavis & Andrew,

      Andrew… I love the YouTube channel. Such a great way to share what’s happening in STEM and an awesome way to push the kids’ abilities. Not only are they designing STEM projects, but now they are thinking about how to best share these digitally.

      I really like Mavis’ suggestion about working in groups with assigned roles. I could see this working in the ES classroom, where kids love having a classroom job that rotates throughout the month. I’m not sure of the logistics of this since you only see kids once in a 6-day cycle… but with your scheduling talents, I’m sure it’s feasible.

      I read about this teacher using digital stories to share classroom learning link to and the kids acted as tutorial designers with screencasted tutorials. This would look a bit different with iPads, but I think it would be great to see kids troubleshoot and verbalize their challenges when completing the projects.

      Thanks for sharing!!

      🙂 Amy

      1. Thanks for your comments Mavis and Amy,

        You have some great ideas that I can put in place right away. I have a team working on a video right now. I am looking at the apps that you suggested Mavis. I downloaded Storyboard Composer to have a closer look. We were also introduced to Paper by 53 in the ES sometime last year but I didn’t really see the possibilites that could go with it. It may be time to check it out again. As for assigning roles I think I will try something very simple with my Grade 4’s in their Mousetrap Vehicle Unit. I will have partners alternate each class between cleaning up and documenting. Not sure how this will go but as long as I can track it fairly effectively and make them accountable for these roles it should go fairly well. It is certainly worth a try!

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